Sep 022014
 

Manchester United fan and former striker, Danny Welbeck, has been pictured in an Arsenal shirt for the first time since his £16m move to North London.

Yesterday, Arsenal denied that Welbeck had been present for a medical. When this news was relayed to Arsenal supporters outside the Emirates on Sky Sports News, they cheered. After losing out on Radamel Falcao to Manchester United, they were clearly hoping for a stronger calibre of player.

However, the move was confirmed a few hours later.

Sep 012014
 

Radamel Falcao has been pictured at Carrington ahead of his shock loan move to Manchester United from Monaco.

Manchester City and Arsenal had been battling out to sign the striker, who has scored an incredible 155 goals in last 200 games, but United surprised everyone when they agreed terms with the player.

Whilst personal terms are yet to be finalised, it appears as though the signing is very close to being confirmed.

Sep 012014
 

Tottenham Hotspur had been favourites to sign Danny Welbeck last week although there were rumours that Arsenal and Everton were also keen on a loan move.

However, Arsenal were rivalling Manchester City to bring in Radamel Falcao as their priority signing. The striker has scored 155 goals in his last 200 games and was available on loan.

But Manchester United wrapped up a deal for the striker instead, meaning Arsenal were keen to bring Welbeck to the club. Reports suggested a loan move would cost £6m whilst a permanent deal would be worth £18m.

Sky Sports News reported that Welbeck was having a medical at Arsenal and the player’s agent went on talkSPORT confirming that offers had come in for the striker.

“There have been a few clubs in for Danny and they’re looking for loan deals with a view to buying, but Danny doesn’t want to go on loan,” he said. “He wants a straight transfer and he has every right to say that. In the last half an hour I have received some interest in a straight transfer which I’m going to speak to Manchester United about.”

However, Arsenal have released a statement to “categorically deny” the reports that Welbeck had underdone a medical with them and insist no deal is in place.

A few hours later, it was confirmed that Arsenal signed the Manchester United youth product for £18m.

Sep 012014
 

Ajax have this evening confirmed that the £13.8m deal for Daley Blind has gone through. Whilst the clubs reached an agreement last week, there were certain conditions that were fulfilled this evening.

Tonight, Blind is in Hilversum, Holland, to collect his award for being named the best player in Holland last season. The prize is known as the “Golden Boot” in Holland has previously been won by Luis Suarez, Edwin Van der Sar, Jaap Stam, Frank Rijkaard and Johan Cruyff.

Louis van Gaal is also present at the award ceremony this evening.

Sep 012014
 

Javier Hernandez has joined Real Madrid on a season long loan from Manchester United with the option of it being made permanent.

“It’s an honour and a dream to play in this team,” he said. “Of course, I have aims, dreams and I’m going to go out on the pitch determined to enjoy this experience. In my head and in my heart I am only grateful for being a part of this great team.”

Aug 312014
 

Earlier this week, Jose Mourinho claimed that Chelsea were finished in the transfer market and that he was “happy” with the squad he had.

Arsene Wenger was saying similar things about Arsenal and wasn’t going to be pressured in to bringing in a new striker, despite their first choice striker, Oliver Giroud, being ruled out with injury until 2015.

QPR’s Loic Remy had a release clause of £10.5m and reports suggested that Arsenal were keen to sign him, despite interest from Chelsea.

However, it was confirmed today that Chelsea have won the race to sign the striker.

“I feel very happy and very proud to have signed for Chelsea,” Remy said. “They are one of the best clubs in the world and I can’t wait to get started, training and playing with my new team-mates, when I get back from international duty with France.”

Following Arsenal’s draw with Leicester, Wenger claimed the issue wasn’t whether Arsenal needed a player or not, but whether they could find the right one. He claimed the club were “open” to signing a striker. When asked specifically about Remy, Wenger claimed that he “didn’t want to talk about individual cases” but insisted that Arsenal are “very active”.

It makes you wonder why Arsenal didn’t move for Remy until the last minute. This leaves Arsenal with Yaya Sanogo, Joel Campbell, Lukas Podolski and Alexis Sanchez as their options for up front as it stands.

Aug 312014
 

With just over 24 hours remaining until the transfer window closes, it looks as though Manchester United might be doing their rivals, Manchester City, in signing a fantastic striker. While United are behind City in the title odds with Betfair, one only has to look back at Arsenal’s sale of RvP to realise that strengthening your direct rivals is never a good idea.

It appeared as though Radamel Falcao was set to move to Real Madrid from Monaco, with him even tweeting about the move. He preferred a move to Spain over England, but that might not be a possibility now.

Rumours suggest that United have agreed a deal to loan Javier Hernandez to the Spanish giants, although an agreement on salary has yet to be finalised.

If this loan goes through, Falcao would no longer be required by Real Madrid, meaning City wouldn’t need to get themselves involved in a bidding war for the £55m striker.

After being fined £50m for breaching FFP, City are under pressure to generate more cash before they can buy. Álvaro Negredo, Micah Richards, Matija Nastasic and Scott Sinclair may all be on their way out of the club, after United have paved the way for Falcao to move to the other team in Manchester.

Jul 072014
 

The injury that sent shockwaves for all people watching this summer’s World Cup was the damage Neymar sustained to his back. However, the absence of Angel di Maria for the rest of the World Cup will certainly be headline news in Argentina.

The Real Madrid winger was subbed off in his country’s win over Belgium in the quarter-final after tearing muscles in his right thigh when having a shot on goal.

The manager of Argentina, Alejandro Sabella, initially thought that Di Maria would be available for the semi-final, but scan results have shown that he will likely be absent for the rest of the World Cup, even if his country do reach the final. Given Argentina’s strength in depth, you would fancy them as favourites to win it still, but the odds for each country still in the World Cup might have improved following Di Maria’s injury.

Argentina fans won’t be the only ones disappointed to hear of the injury though, as Manchester United had been strongly linked with a £40m move for the winger last week. Real Madrid have apparently already lined up his replacement, Monaco’s James Rodriguez, but if Di Maria isn’t fit to pass a medical, he won’t be going anywhere.

“For now, I’m just thinking the World Cup,” Di Maria said when asked about his future. “We’ll see what happens with Madrid and if they want to continue. Honestly, I know that there are offers and interested clubs.”

Apr 082014
 

Ahead of Manchester United’s quarter-final tie against Bayern Munich, reports have emerged that Toni Kroos is keen to switch life in Germany for England.

There are at least ten players at Bayern Munich who earn more money than Kroos with him currently earning £65k-a-week, which is some way short of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben’s £165k-a-week. United would be prepared to offer him £200k-a-week.

Felix Kroos, the player’s brother, revealed last month that United were the ‘team of his dreams’ and that he had spoken about the prospective deal with Toni.

“We have already talked about it,” he said. “Manchester has been the team of my dreams since I was a child. However, I don’t give him any advice. He will take a good decision for himself. There are worse situations than having to decide something like that.”

Jan 292014
 

Manchester United target Toni Kroos was angry to be subbed after in tonight’s game against Stuttgart. With an hour played and Bayern Munich a goal behind, Kroos was replaced by Claudio Piazarro.

Kroos went to the bench without shaking his team mates’ hands, before angrily throwing his gloves to the floor.

With his contract set to expire next summer and the player keen to improve his salary, Bayern Munich are reluctant to put him on the same level as the likes of Lahm and Ribery.

Kroos admitted this week that he was unsure about his future, whilst Pep Guardiola insisted he thought the player was important but didn’t know what was going to happen in the future.

David Moyes went to watch Kroos play last Friday with Steve Round and Phil Neville. With two days before the transfer window closes, can Manchester United take advantage of this temper tantrum?

Jan 242014
 

If I hear, see or read the question “Where will Juan Mata fit into the Manchester United side” one more time, I am going to give up on the human race.

According to worldwide reports, the two times Chelsea Player of the Year is set to sign for the Premier League champions for a club record fee of £37m in what will arguably be biggest transfer in the history of English football as it comes between the two most successful sides of the Premier League era.

It is no secret that David Moyes had a torrid time trying to do business in the summer transfer window, seemingly missing out on numerous targets, of which one report claimed Juan Mata was on his hit list along with fellow countrymen Cesc Fabregas and Ander Hererra – but he did land one man in former Evertonian Marouane Fellaini.

The tough tackling Belgian was brought to Old Trafford for £27m and despite the apparent national outcry for a ball winning midfielder to be added to the ranks – something that hasn’t been seen since the days of Roy Keane and Nicky Butt; yet this signing wasn’t enough to keep the United faithful happy, with most wanting a creative player to take over where Paul Scholes had left off.

Six months into the season and on the cusp of completing the deal which would bring the 25 year old to the club, there are still some Manchester United fans moaning. Lord give me strength.

We can all appreciate that so far this has been a disastrous campaign. Out of both domestic cups, a million points behind league leaders Arsenal and keeping one eye on the teams around us which includes Newcastle and Southampton – it hasn’t really gone according to plan so action within this transfer window is an absolute must.

Asking where Juan Mata would fit into the current Manchester United set up is like asking me where a £50 note would fit into my wallet full of fivers – the answer being as simple as anywhere it wants.

We all watched the Capital One cup semi-final against Sunderland didn’t we? No creativity, no fluency, no dynamism… everything was stale.

As obvious as it sounds, when Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie are both fully fit, they both start, with Rooney playing in the deeper role behind the Dutch striker.

Juan Mata excels in this deeper role, so does this mean there are too many cooks in the kitchen?
Definitely not.

Keeping every player within your squad fully fit for an entire campaign is impossible. Ask any manager from any division from any league across Europe.

I have no doubts that Juan Mata would play enough games in his desired position throughout a season to justify this purchase; if it needs any justification anyway?

I can already hear the murmurs of the cynical comparing this to the Shinji Kagawa conundrum. Unfortunately for Kagawa, this is a completely different animal. Popular as he may be, Kagawa has been given time on the pitch; whether it be from the left hand side or centrally, and he has failed to deliver time and time again.

The Japanese star was brought to the club from Germany possessing huge potential, which has never been fulfilled. In Mata there is far more than potential, there is a man who has performed at the highest level on a weekly basis, in this league. Ask any Chelsea fan if they can justify this sale; or justify why he is being left on the bench – and not one will be able to give you valid answer.

Apparently he lacks the ability to see out his defensive duties? Apparently it is a long term feud with blues boss Mourinho from years ago? Either way, if Mata does end up a Manchester United player, I can guarantee it will be a within weeks that he becomes as important to David Moyes side as he was for Chelsea over the past two seasons.

If this transfer goes through, David Moyes deserves an enormous amount of credit for landing a player of this stature.

Do you think this signing will be happen or is it more empty promises?

 

Jan 132014
 

So it has come to that point in the season again that every fan absolutely hates loves: the hallowed January transfer window. Not since the days of Chelsea’s fateful Fernando Torres signing has anything of note happened in January. Nevertheless, Sky Sport’s incessant ramping up of the final day has almost become a day of celebration in itself. Millions of people sitting in front of a rolling news station waiting for something that is likely to have broken on Twitter 45 minutes beforehand. The joy.

My contempt for the SkySportsification™ of the transfer window aside, January can often be a place to find crucial squad depth for the final push towards the Premier League title (or to avoid relegation). After two years of relative obscurity, from a Chelsea perspective, this finally feels like the club are back in the thick of things. With that being said there are certain holes that Chelsea could look to fill that would at the very least guarantee them a serious shot at landing the Premier League.

Chelsea’s current defensive situation is far from ideal, but definitely serviceable until the end of the season. While more quality in the full-back area and centre-back should be sought it can at least wait until the summer. I would be surprised to see any departures here and no club is likely to be able to afford the price Chelsea were reportedly quoting for David Luiz in the summer.

Into midfield is where things become interesting. The long-term injury to Marco van Ginkel is incredibly unfortunate given the potential playing time he would have had this season. Michael Essien may not be sold this January, but his days are sadly numbered at Chelsea. David Luiz can be used as an auxiliary midfielder, which bolsters numbers to five, but one serious injury could leave Chelsea with two recognised central players able to play twice a week comfortably.

The mooted options appear to be resigning Nemanja Matić or bidding for Fredy Guarín. Matić is an interesting case having already been at the club for some time but not quite getting the chance. For the reported fee Chelsea could be better served waiting until the summer, however, this transfer rumour does appear to be gathering pace with a formal bid submitted. Matić has fantastic ability and the only minor concern surrounding him will be how quickly he can adapt to the tempo of the Premier League. If he settles well then he slots in alongside Ramires or Mikel to provide a perfect foil and physical edge. A great distributor, powerful and an impressive ball winner he is the type of player Chelsea have missed since Michael Ballack’s departure.

VerdictIf this is the only money to be spent on a midfielder in the next year then I would wait until the summer and push for Vidal. However, this is a position of great need and it is not a stretch to say it could push Chelsea towards a serious title challenge. If Chelsea are going to further add to the central midfield area at the end of the season then Matić represents a great signing.

Guarín has absolutely no interest in joining the club and Chelsea appear poles apart with Inter in their valuation. This is certainly a blessing in disguise. Guarín has played more times as a striker this season than in holding midfield and despite having a fantastic engine offers little that Ramires cannot replicate. He is not the box-to-box destroyer that Chelsea so desperately seek, nor is he above a merely average-to-good midfielder.

Verdict – avoid the signing – signing another body just to have another body is a silly way to go about spending money.

Matić is the only player worth investing in, but even he is not the panacea to Chelsea’s midfield issues. If the £30m fee is to be believed (other sources say £21m) then are Chelsea better off waiting until the summer and targeting someone like Vidal, Pogba etc? The quandary remains that Chelsea are desperate for another person in midfield but with the January premium and other factors, i.e. are they cup tied, the right midfielder is scarce. A future midfield quartet of Matić, Mikel, Ramires and van Ginkel represents the type of power Mourinho likes, but there needs to be someone more technical in the box-to-box bracket for that to become a special group.

If Mourinho’s words are true, that Chelsea are targeting three significant signings this summer, then the need to find elite quality perhaps diminishes somewhat. My preferred option is to look closer at home and use someone like Nathaniel Chalobah as a rotation option. After an excellent campaign at Watford he has stagnated at Nottingham Forest under 3rd person referring Billy Davies. Chalobah is comfortable in midfield and will likely raise his game with the quality of players around him. This, however, is highly unlikely and some newspapers are suggesting that Guarin will also be signed in addition to Matić.

The other obvious area of improvement can be seen in Chelsea’s centre forward options. It is a miracle and testament to Mourinho that Chelsea are so well positioned with such a mediocre set of strikers. People can bleat on about Romelu Lukaku’s absence for as long as they like but the reality is that while the Belgian is certainly a better option than current incumbents he has a plethora of things to work on to make him suited to Mourinho’s team. He should improve his link-up play and ability to play with this back to goal. Working within tight spaces and developing his footwork to deal with intricate build up is another must. All, hopefully, are improving under Roberto Martínez’s exceptional coaching.

All signs point to Demba Ba leaving the club in January after an underwhelming stint. Ba certainly works hard but lacks the consistent quality to assert himself as a first choice striker. With Ba’s departure Chelsea have Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o to rely upon for the foreseeable future. Given the age of the latter and the erratic play of the former Chelsea must surely be looking to reinforce this area in January. While André Schürrle can play as a makeshift centre forward, a club competing on three fronts over the coming months cannot solely rely upon two players to remain in form and healthy.

The rumours surrounding a bid for Wayne Rooney persist, but given Manchester United’s form of late is losing their talisman something they are going to entertain? Rooney is certainly from a stylistic standpoint the profile of striker Chelsea should be looking to buy. He has the ability to link play, works incredibly hard and would fit seamlessly into a side that would allow him to play to his strengths.

It could very well be that Rooney is desperate for a change of scenery and that playing under Mourinho could completely reinvigorate his career. That is not to say that he has not been a fantastic performer this season, but Mourinho would take Rooney to a level that Moyes could never envisage. There is always a fear factor in signing high profile strikers at Chelsea. The money tied up in signing Rooney, now in his late 20s, would be astronomical – potentially the highest paid player in a squad full of high paid players and a transfer fee approaching £40m. If Rooney were in his mid-20s this would be an easy decision, but more thought needs to go into this.

My outside the box suggestion would be to make a loan move for Radamel Falcao. Chelsea, unquestionably, missed a trick in the summer by not signing Falcao or Edison Cavani. Yes, elite strikers cost a lot of money, but the effect they have on a team cannot be ignored. Van Persie essentially papered over much of this season’s United form and delivered a league title (I am being somewhat facetious here). The damage that Falcao or Cavani would have causes spearheading the Chelsea frontline this season is catastrophic.

There are more than one account of Falcao’s unhappiness to be read on the internet concerning his time in Monaco. A move purely for money has seemingly backfired as he has taken such a backwards step in his career. He would certainly jump at the opportunity to play in the Premier League, Champions League and under Mourinho. A loan fee and paying a sizeable portion of his wages would surely be enough to capture the Colombian for the remainder of the season. Nevertheless, a long term solution must be sought in the summer. Diego Costa appears a fine player with many Mourinho-esque characteristics and someone I would like to see the club move for. Nevertheless, Atletico are in the hunt for the title for the first time in a while and I would find it strange if they considered bids or he wanted to move in January with a World Cup approaching.

Prediction* – Demba Ba (50/50), Michael Essien (if not now, then the summer) and Kevin De Bruyne depart (£25-£30m). Chelsea sign Guarín or Matić. Chelsea do not sign a striker – they will not think of a loan move for Falcao, Rooney will prove too costly and Manchester United will definitely not want to sell him and Diego Costa is unlikely to move in this window. Juan Mata does not leave the club.

HopesChelsea agree a fee in January to sign Luke Shaw and Kurt Zouma in the summer. Both players return to their clubs on loan for the remainder of the season.

* I am hopeless at predictions.

Jan 122014
 

Reports from Spain have suggested that could be some truth to the rumours that Manchester United are ready to sign Fabio Coentrao from Real Madrid.

The English champions agreed a deal to bring Coentrao on loan last summer, with the view to making it a permanent transfer, and completed all the paperwork on their end. However, Real Madrid failed to bring in a replacement at the last minute so didn’t submit their paperwork and pulled a plug on the deal.

Earlier this week, David Moyes was asked whether it was true United were close to agreeing a move for the January transfer window. “No, that’s not true,” he insisted.

However, following the catastrophic transfer window in the summer, it is understandable that the club would be keen to play down any transfer rumours, so that any business they do can be seen as a positive. A few months ago, Ed Woodward promised the fans that money was available for them to buy any world class talent they wanted, but in the end the only player United signed was Marouane Fellaini.

Coentrao has struggled with injuries since the summer and Carlo Ancelotti has preferred Marcelo to him at left back, meaning the 25-year-old is keen to leave the club, to ensure he is in the best possible form ahead of the World Cup this summer. His agent, Jorge Mendes, was in Manchester this week, although it is likely he was also working a deal to take Anderson away from the club, with Fiorentina confirming their interest today.

Oct 152013
 

Robert Lewandowski was supposedly a done deal for Bayern Munich but his most recent comments suggest there is the possibility he will be moving to the Premier League this summer.

The player claims he has never revealed he would be signing for Bayern Munich.

What has he actually said?

April 21st 2013: Sir Alex Ferguson on signing Lewandowski – “Yeah, but Bayern Munich are strong with that too. We just have to wait and see where we are in terms of if we win the league. Then it may be different.”

May 27th 2013: His agent, Cezary Kucharski – “Yes. Robert will join Bayern this summer. There is no point in pretending that he will not move to Bayern. Robert wants to leave and that is what will happen. It is a matter of time. It could be a done deal within a week or within two to three weeks. We are waiting for a signal from the club. We are working on this deal.”

June 5th 2013: “I expect everything to be cleared up now so that I will be allowed to move to my dream club this summer. That would be the best for everybody involved. Dortmund are a fantastic club whom I will always admire. It’s just now I want a new challenge for my future.”

June 11th 2013: “I do not think that this is the final decision of the board of directors and I expect the situation to change shortly. I am enjoying my holiday for now, but I hope things move forward pretty soon and the situation changes. I do not get upset about anything.”

July 31st 2013: “If someone says something, he should keep his word. I’m not saying it’s only about the transfer, but other things we have discussed with management and that has not materialised. It turns out that words spoken straight into my eyes were untrue. No matter how hard I will train and what I will do, the feeling that I’ve been cheated will still be there. Maybe that word is too much, so for now I will say I’m disappointed.”

August 24th 2013: “Yes, there was a situation like this with Jose Mourinho but I wouldn’t like to talk about it much. It was a private conversation so I don’t want to make big things out of it. I can confirm I spoke to him. We spoke a few times before. I have his number in my phone. It is a huge compliment for me that a manager with such a big name is texting me this way. It is always nice to talk to him but it is not the first time I had such a situation. One year earlier I also spoke to Sir Alex Ferguson and that was definitely a great feeling. The retirement of Sir Alex didn’t affect my decision not to come to England. He spoke to me one year ago. It was not at a good time. I knew I still had something big to achieve in Dortmund before I joined a bigger club.”

Septermber 25th 2013: When asked if he would confirm a move to Bayern in January, Lewandowski told Sport 1: “Yes, because I can officially sign the new contract in January. Right now, I can’t say anything. Normally, I can only reveal it officially in January. At this moment, it is still too early and we’ll have to wait a bit. But I think, I can leave in January.”

October 14th 2013: “I will be able to sign a contract in January, but I have never said that I will sign a contract with Bayern. It was a misunderstanding. It is true I had the opportunity to speak with Sir Alex Ferguson (last year), but we didn’t mention the transfer. One day I would like to play in the Premier League. It would be a great experience.”

Sep 122013
 

With rolling 24-hour sports channels and the social media flourishing more than ever, it should not come as a great surprise that what happens off the pitch is now given more scrutiny than what happens on it. The lust for breaking news and getting ‘the story’ has accelerated out of control, while providing in-depth tactical analysis and insight into the games has become an after-thought.

Many now anticipate the biannual ‘transfer deadline day’ more than the actual football matches which is insane. Each club is heavily scrutinised in the market business and not making big-money signings to appease the fans now portrays club as weak and vulnerable.

And let’s make one thing clear – the new combination of David Moyes and Ed Woodward being thrown in at the same time to work on transfers was a significant error of judgement. Manchester United don’t use a Director of Football as Moyes is famed for scouting many of his own players and playing a large role in club recruitment policy. In any case, a Director of Football doesn’t fit into United’s ideals and more commonly seen at club’s who expect a high turnover of managers. Ed Woodward’s success comes from his tough financial negotiating and helping the club write off large sums of debt accumulated from the Glazer takeover. Both have been hugely successful in their respective fields, but neither is directly familiar with overseeing the intricacies of big-name and big-money transfers. In hindsight, the vastly experienced and successful David Gill should have been persuaded to remain in his role as Chief Executive for twelve more months to ease Moyes’ into his job.

Large swathes of the media are now opening fire on the Moyes and Woodward combination. They were embarrassed by Thiago Alcantara’s last-minute switch to Bayern Munich, before being humiliated by the public pursuit of Cesc Fabregas. There were bizarre attempts to negotiate a non-negotiable deal with Anders Herrera, numerous failed bids for Leighton Baines, reportedly turning down the wonderfully gifted Mesut Ozil, further unsuccessful attempts for Danielle De Rossi and Sami Khedira before missing out on the loan-deal for Fabio Coentrao. To top it all off, they even paid £4 million more for their one major signing than they should have after dithering on triggering his release clause in time.

The wholesale doom and gloom is unfounded and misplaced. Manchester United made a significant number of vital errors over the past number of months but one vital fact has been overlooked by the media vultures circling around their proposed demise of the club. With the acquisition of Marouane Fellaini and the holding of Wayne Rooney, Manchester United have accomplished their two immediate priorities from the start of summer and have thus, strengthened their title-winning squad.

Wholesale changes to the playing staff would have been a grave error and one that was, thankfully, avoided. Much has been made of the impact of new managers on this year’s title race but their influence over proceedings pales in comparison to that of the mentality of a squad.

Sir Alex Ferguson possessed an endless array of attributes but the most crucial was that he was a natural-born winner who despised losing and knew how to be successful. He knew what players matched this and was an expert at spotting which players shared this mind-set and which didn’t. Fergie may be gone but this attitude remains and he has shown full trust in Moyes that this blueprint will not waver.

What United have lacked in recent times is a domineering central midfielder who will assert himself on the game both with his ability and physicality. A midfielder whose robustness and energy could complement the silky passing and fluent rhythm of Michael Carrick. It is telling that Shinji Kagawa (six goals) was the only United midfielder to net more than twice last season and a more significant goal-threat was required. Ideally a new midfielder would be strong in the air, play short, succinct passes to complement United’s counter-attacking threat and be a box-to-box player.

Marouane Fellaini is the perfect fit. He scored twelve times last season, averaging a goal every three matches, finishing as Everton’s top goalscorer, and was the league’s player of the month for November. He can play in a holding midfield role, as a box-to-box player or sit nestle in behind the front-line, such quality in versatility is a greatly underrated asset. He made 82 tackles in the league last season – from the top clubs, only Michael Carrick (83) made more, having played an extra two games.

He is a player Moyes trusts and has a close bond with – a signing virtually with no risks and countless benefits. It also fits the United policy of spending big on established Premiership players, only seriously delving into the European market on the rare occasions to sign promising youngsters when no home-based equivalent is on the market.

Fellaini has helped propel Everton to finishes of 7th and 6th in the past two seasons due to his contributions at both ends of the pitch and was the club’s most technically gifted asset. At 25 years old the big Belgian is now only entering his prime and is sure to improve his game yet further in the coming years. He has an eye for a pass and will bring much needed creativity to United, whilst there should be less focus on his need to contribute defensively which theoretically should improve his attacking attributes further.

Moyes also retained Wayne Rooney and the early indications are that he will use him in his preferred free-roaming attacking role, and will be less burdened defensively. Automatically this strengthens United not just in terms of ability within their squad, but of weakening major rivals Chelsea.

After his summer courtship of Rooney, Mourinho was forced into signing an ageing Eto’o and bizarrely loaning out Romelu Lukaku. Chelsea have an impressive squad with an equally strong-minded coach but the weaknesses which hampered their progress last season remain. Question marks remain over their defensive strength-in-depth, lacking a quality holding midfielder and most crucially of all, firepower up top. Eto’o will score goals and is arguably an upgrade on Torres, but their rival fans will breathe a massive sigh of relief that they didn’t invest more heavily in that area.

Manchester City have also strengthened their squad, but they have already shown massive defensive vulnerability without injured skipper Vincent Kompany. Joe Hart is going through a prolonged spell of poor form and whilst there is now less reliance on Yaya Toure and Aguero, they haven’t made the marquee signing some fans expected after a disastrous 2012/13 campaign.

Arsenal grabbed the headlines with the remarkable coup of the outrageously talented Mesut Ozil, but buying new leather seats for your car without replacing a faulty engine could be dangerous. That said, Wenger has got the fans back on side and the club has made a statement, but they are not quite ready for a title tilt just yet.

Spurs have bought impressively from the windfall of funds generated from Bale’s sale, but the Welshman’s loss to the side cannot be underrated. They failed to break into the top four even with the genius of Bale and have also lost a raft of players adapted to the Premiership. The loss of Dempsey, Parker, Huddlestone and Caulker may not significantly weaken the first team, but the experience and know-how of home-based players can never be underestimated. None of their signings will obviously settle and acclimatise immediately, so the optimism of Spurs fans may have come a little too hastily.

Manchester United romped to the title last year and despite widespread criticism they were mightily impressive. There are no signs that the any of the existing squad will let their impeccable standards slip and the additions of powerhouse Fellaini and the sublimely skilled young winger Wilfred Zaha are purchases which should excite the United faithful.

It is impossible to ignore the on-going incompetencies of their main Premiership rivals, namely Manchester City and Chelsea who despite a limitless supply of wealth have squandered much of their early promise. This summer has seen the furore of management changes but none have taken the transfer window by storm. Inefficiencies have been left unaddressed and no-one has obviously taken the initiative.

It would be an understatement to say United have blundered and dithered at times this summer but the core objectives have been met. Moyes and Woodward will of course need to acclimatise themselves to a learning curve which can be unforgiving and potentially excruciatingly embarrassing, but the next two transfer windows will be the litmus test.

Fellaini could well achieve ‘cult hero’ status at Old Trafford, Rooney may well rejuvenate himself and become the club’s all-time leading goal scorer and in Robin van Persie they have the world’s most complete striker. This is a squad of champions with a winning mentality, and the continuous widespread doubt over their credentials should provide the hunger and determination to once again succeed. You’d be a fool to bet against them.

Sep 082013
 

It’s transfer deadline day and Manchester United, after another inept performance, are yet to make a signing that can add any dimension to the squad. Do not let the 4-1 opening day victory over Swansea fool you, Manchester United were not 3 goals better than Swansea. For it not for the ruthless finishing of Robin Van Persie and the teasing increased shooting ability of Danny Welbeck, Manchester United had as many shots as Swansea and less of the ball.

David Moyes claimed at the beginning of his tenure and the transfer window that the midfield was his primary concern when adding any new players to the squad. Fast forward two months and after the shambolic fruitless eye fluttering at Cesc Fabregas, no bid for Thiago Alcantara and missing Marouane Fellaini’s release clause date, Manchester United have embarrassed themselves with only a few hours left to complete any deals. This in itself creates a problem as the club will surely be held to ransom by selling clubs and this works two-fold:

1. Manchester United are desperate. Contrary to popular belief, this day is not when bargains are sought by top clubs. This is a time when any club contacted by Manchester United will add many additional millions to the price of the player United are interested in. Why it has taken so long, only the board and David Moyes know and this is a quandary of their own making.

2. A club that sells it’s players today will increase prices just for the fact they will face huge difficulties in replacing that player. Deadline day is great for teams outside of the top six but at the top end of the league, inflated prices are de facto.

With so much time having passed and Manchester United linked with nearly every player around, here are the three players that David Moyes should have signed.

Thiago Alcantara

It was well known to the entire football world that Thiago’s hugely decreased release clause was set at €18m due to not meeting the quota of first team games last season for Barcelona. Now any person that has seen Thiago play would have known straight away that this player is brilliant. Samba flair mixed with Barcelona’s La Masia upbringing has moulded a player with incredible technique and an astute eye for goal. Thiago’s touch and skill is only matched by very few young players in Europe. Now bear in mind these young players would be signed for €30m+, it’s crazy to think that Manchester United did not make a bid for him regardless of what the media have claimed. Thiago came out and said United did not show any interest and once Guardiola came out to say Thiago was the only player he wanted, Manchester United were left out in the cold. This is was exactly the type of player that United needed, a player that can unlock defences and play between the lines but without restricting what a Number 10 (ideally Kagawa) would add to the side. Effectively a player that can play between Carrick and Kagawa and this deficiency was as clear as day in the loss to Liverpool at the weekend.

Fabio Coentrao

Patrice Evra is 32. Leighton Baines is 29 in a couple of months. Fabio Coentrao is 25. Contextually, Baines is English and will cost upwards of £25m given what happens in this country with any English player with some semblance of talent. It’s clear that United need a new left back to come in once Evra stops playing age-defying football and unfortunately, Baines is not the answer. This is not to discredit his talent but the price to pay for arguably Everton’s best player is not the answer to the question at hand. Fabio Coentrao stated at the beginning of the transfer window that he wants to leave Real Madrid. Due to this, a lower price could have been a factor yet no one came in for him. It’s been so long now that the player has decided to stay . This is a shame as he hasn’t featured at all this season and quality left sided defenders are few and far between. He shares similar traits to Evra with his marauding style and technique on the ball and it’s a shame this is another opportunity missed. With Buttner as Evra’s understudy, it’s a sad indictment for a club of Manchester United’s calibre.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Manchester United have more money to spend on players than many think. A club that flirts with the top two places on the income list in football are very rich. Rich enough to pay what it would take to bring back the best player this decade has seen in a Manchester United shirt. United have missed Ronaldo immensely since his departure in 2009, they have won the league in his absence yes, but that’s hardly the tall order it used to be with the quality of the league diminishing in recent years. Take a look at last season and a team shorn of a jealousy inducing midfield won the league with relative ease. It’s on the European stage that United lack quality and ever since Athletic Bilbao embarrassed them twice in the Europa League, problems have persisted in United’s European performances. They lack a quality wide forward and Ronaldo’s understudy; Nani and replacement: Valencia are both frustratingly talented but not what Manchester United need. Ashley Young would deserve a mention if he actually knew how to play football at this level so for now, just see this as his mention. Gareth Bale has recently eclipsed Ronaldo as the world’s most expensive signing and whether this is deserved or not, Ronaldo hasn’t been happy in Madrid for two years. Bale is Ronaldo but 4 years his junior. Quick, strong, technical and with a shot many can’t match, they are both vying for the same spot. This was the opportunity for Manchester United to bring home the player that still gets sung about at every home game. The prodigal son needs to return, preferably before he turns 30.